During his fifteen year long professional career he has earned at least 1.2 billion SEK and spent several millions on a private jet and sports cars. In the first big investigationÂ onÂ Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s business dealings, Veckans Affärer hasÂ looking intoÂ an empireÂ built aroundÂ real estate.
“Don’t think you thinkÂ that I don’t know what I’m doing,” says the soccer star himself.
By Emanuel Sidea. Published in Veckans Affärer on June 18, 2014. Translated from Swedish by T. K.
In the spring of 2010, Zlatan Ibrahimovich bought a large house on Resarö. It is situated around 30 kilometers from central Stockholm in an area he found out about through his national team colleague Olof Mellberg, who lives there.
Lars-Johan Jarnheimer, former director in the Stenbeck domain and now professional board member, also bought a beach villa here the other year. The road maintenance on the island is taken care of by an association that collects a yearly fee.
When the Ibrahimovich household had not paid their bill, Lars-Johan Jarnheimer was assigned to bring this up. He got a hold of the cell phone number and called.
“How much is it?” Zlatan asked.
“Five-hundred crowns,” Lars-Johan Jarnheimer replied.
Shortly thereafter, the road association got a payment. Instead of the five-hundred, Zlatan had paid five-hundred-thousand crowns – enough fees to cover the coming thousand years.
Making a point to director Jarnheimer about who ruled the neighborhood had come at a cost. Half a million might sound like a large amount, but it only constitutes the earnings for one and a half day that he receives from the soccer club Paris Saint-Germain.
Since Zlatan Ibrahimovich in 1999 started to play for the A-squad of Malmö FF, he has gone from an average soccer salary to being one of the most well-paid soccer players in the world, and is ranked as one of the worldÂ´s very best. He is without a doubt the greatest soccer player in the history of Sweden.
According to the compilations of Veckans Affärer he has earned 931 million crowns during his 15 year long professional career. Counting commercial and sponsor earnings, book sales and other earnings, the sum comes to 1,2 billion crowns.
He has very seldom spoken of his money or his economy. But on the other hand he has described his lifestyle as an international level soccer star.
When the national team was to gather strength on Gotland before the European Championships 2012, Zlatan flew to Visby on a chartered private jet. He can take a private jet from Malmö in the morning to eat lunch with his friend, the music producer Max Martin, in Stockholm and then fly home directly afterwards.
A person who has gotten a good view of how Zlatan sees his economy is the author David Lagercrantz who has written his autobiography.
“His money is in damned good order”, David Lagercrantz says.
In the middle of 2011 David Lagercrantz was in Milano for a month to interview Zlatan for the autobiography “Jag är Zlatan” that was published in November the same year. David Lagercrantz does not want to say exactly what Zlatan said, aside from what was included in the book. He argues that the talks were held in confidence.
He refers to the book where Zlatan describes that he felt deceived by the sports director of Malmö FF, Hasse Borg, when the club sold him to Ajax in Holland. This caused him to thereafter mind the affairs and money surrounding the soccer.
“It was a lesson that I will never forget”, Zlatan says in the biography.
“It marked me, honestly, and donÂ´t convince yourselves for a second that I donÂ´t know about my money and my terms.”
David Lagercrantz summarizes his impressions from the daily interviews in Milano.
“Zlatan is well-informed. He wants to have control over his finances. He is interested and knows what heÂ´s doing.”
In connection with the release of the biography, Zlatan in short talked about how he had invested his money in an interview with Dagens Industri.
“There are different things, there is everything from government bonds to the stock exchange to normal funds. There are many things, but I shouldnÂ´t stand here and say in detail if I have bought H&M.”
For several weeks Zlatan has declined to give and interview for this article through different channels.
“If we want to do an interview with Veckans Affärer we will get in touch”, ZlatanÂ´s brand name agent Mika Lepistö says.
“The tall one” – as Mika Lepistö calls Zlatan in informal conversations – has taken three weeks’ vacation after Sweden lost its latest training game against Belgium.
What does the 195 cm tall Ibrahimovich do with his earnings of hundreds of millions of crowns? Who are the business contacts and to whom does he turn for counseling?
Every late fall since 2007 Zlatan Ibrahimovich has accepted the Golden Ball, the award for SwedenÂ´s best male soccer player.
It was in connection with the handing out of this award at the Soccer Gala in Malmö Arena in November of 2010 that the IT billionaire Dan Olofsson was introduced to Zlatan by the national team player Behrang Safari. The same fall Zlatan had taken a hunting license and Dan Olofsson invited him to hunt in South Africa and Jämtland.
“He likes to hunt – He is very entertained by it,” Dan Olofsson says.
Dan Olofsson is a good friend of Zlatan and has visited the family both in Milano, when he was playing there, and in Paris. Despite his background in business, no investments have been made together with Zlatan.
“No, we havenÂ´t done that,” Dan Olofsson says.
Dan Olofsson has earned a multi-billion fortune from the IT consult companies Sigma, Epsilon and Teleca, but he is more careful about giving business advice to Zlatan.
“It is always hard to give advice to friends. Because you have to be very sure when you do that. In all future business there is some insecurity. So in the end you donÂ´t give much advice,” Dan Olofsson says.
Aside from a traditional management of the fortune, of which Zlatan spoke in the DI-interview, he also has a number of other investments.
Olof Lundh, who works for TV4Â´s Soccer Channel, is one of SwedenÂ´s most experienced sport journalists and has watched Zlatan for many years. He notes that he has spent a fair amount of money on real estate.
“Then he has bought a private jet, cars and such. And he has helped his parents,” Olof Lundh says.
The most known real estate purchase is the patrician villa in Limhamn that he bought for 30 million crowns in 2007. The seller didnÂ´t really want to sell, which is why the price is high. Then renovations were done, a tall wall was built around the house and the grounds were lowered to prevent people from seeing inside.
“When the construction company went bankrupt they had done renovations for 22 million crowns, and the house wasnÂ´t even done yet,” Olof Lundh says.
The house has then been emptied and put up for sale, but has not yet been sold. The following real estate affairs have instead been concentrated to the Stockholm area – in 2010 Zlatan bought the previously mentioned villa on Resarö for 13 million crowns.
In the spring of 2012 he tried to buy a forest property on Dävensö, and island in the archipelago of Stockholm with good opportunities for hunting and which can only be reached by boat or helicopter. Zlatan has been there to hunt with the former national team colleague Daniel Majstorovic and Gustaf Kukacka.
Gustaf Kubacka runs the hunting store Hunt on Kungsholmen in Stockholm and had supposedly helped Zlatan in getting his hunting license in 2010. When the forest property on Dävensö was put up for sale and Zlatan wanted to buy it, Gustaf Kubacka acted as his representative.
“I will not discuss Zlatan IÂ´m afraid,” Gustaf Kubacka says.
In June of 2012 ZlatanÂ´s mother Jurka Gravic signed the agreement to buy the property of 350 hectares – the majority of the islandÂ´s 500 hectares – with admittance in July of 2012. When the association of hunters understood that the new owner, via the representative Gustaf Kukacka, would not let them hunt anymore, the agreement was torn up.
Instead the forest property was sold to Daniel Majstorovic for 17,8 million crowns. A mock deal, says many who note that the owner really is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
At the same time a deal was made in the center of Stockholm that shares many similarities with the one in the archipelago.
In August of 2012 when Evangeliska Frikyrkan (the evangelical free church) and Equmeniakyrkan decided to sell the church Elimkyrkan on the road Storgatan on Östermalm in Stockholm, the property was bought by the construction company BLT Prospektering (which nowadays is called Sisyfos Fastighetsförädling). The company, which was run by the president Olle Larsson, sought a construction permit to change the church into a private luxury dwelling.
Barely a year later, in July of 2013, Olle Larsson implied in the local press that they were searching for a new owner. In the press an approximate 70 million crowns was given as the price for buying and renovating the property into a so-called townhouse of American model. Shortly after Olle LarssonÂ´s medial move it was established that a deal had in fact already been made in September of 2012, and that the real owner was Zlatan Ibrahimovich. It is a setup that Olle Larsson is not allowed to explain.
“I cannot give any comments on that project. ThatÂ´s how boring I am,” Olle Larsson says.
The property was sold for 42,75 million crowns – of which 38 million crowns were paid in cash – to Pestolla Holding AB, where the only board member is ZlatanÂ´s mother Jurka Gravic. With the exception of the dwelling on Resarö, almost all of Zlatan IbrahimovichÂ´s deals have been made in this manner – through representatives or by registering them on someone else.
Dan Olofsson owns much land in Årefjället and Zlatan has built a hunting cabin of 127 square meters on an alpine hill with free sight for miles towards Offerdalsfjällen. The construction permit was sought by Johan Glennmo, president of Danir AB and son of Dan Olofsson.
Why didnÂ´t Zlatan seek a building permit himself?
Dan Olofsson does not want to talk about it, but says that it was more of an administrative matter.
“Title deeds take time,” Dan Olofsson says and repeats that he doesnÂ´t like to talk about his friend.
In his own autobiography “Mina tre liv” from 2012, Zlatan only briefly passes by among several important persons that have visited the mother of Dan Olofsson.
“He is jealous of his personal life,” Dan Olofsson says.
“He is careful with it, he is so monitored. And he needs a personal life like everyone else. So I donÂ´t want to comment it, out of respect for him.”
The fact is that Dan Olofsson has a business bond with Zlatan through the app company Mikz that was launched about a year ago. In the app, Zlatan uploads images, answers questions and interacts with users that follow him – a sort of marketing channel.
“De big problem is that you canÂ´t earn money from your mobile traffic. The media world needs a common media platform, and I hope we will become one. It actually looks promising,” says Christer Björk, president of Mikz.
To develop the Mikz app has supposedly cost over 100 million crowns. The owner Dan Olofsson does not want to say anything about it, but says that around 70 developers worked in developing it – today they are around 30. The motive is that it has been built to handle the large volumes of users.
For this, Zlatan has not paid a crown.
“Dan Olofsson is completely obsessed with Zlatan,” a person who was worked close to Dan Olofsson says.
Of the around 400 000 users that use the Mikz app 70% follow Zlatan, in other words around 250 000 users. The business model is that celebrities, besides Zlatan there is among others the Barcelona player Lionel Messi, recruit users who companies then pay one crown per follower to reach. The earnings are divided among the celebrities who receive 20%, the media bureaus who attract paying companies receives 40% and Mikz gets 40%.
According to Dan Olofsson every user has on average seven paying channels. This means that Zlatan, who receives one fifth of this, receives earnings of around 350 000 crowns per month. Put this in comparison with most other sport starts on an international level: they use Twitter and Facebook without earning any money.
Olof Lundh argues that this is a recurring pattern in Zlatan.
“He does not want people to make money on him,” Olof Lundh says and adds:
“If other media or companies try to earn money from his name by using his name for marketing purposes or such, he has lawyers that will act.”
Besides, Zlatan is a registered trademark throughout the EU, for use in both hair products and cars.
Despite this resistance to let others make money on his name he has chosen to enter fewer sponsorships and do less advertisements than other international soccer stars.
“He has focused on doing as much as possible for soccer. I donÂ´t think he is interested in traveling around and sitting in interviews about new products,” Olof Lundh says.
One sponsor agreement that goes far back is with the sport giant Nike. He is also a poster boy for their global marketing campaigns. Other companies that he has advertised are Nivea, which is sponsoring the club PSG. And according to French press his advertising of Xbox has given him half a million crowns. Transparency when it comes to commercial earnings is minimal and there are only approximations on the total sponsor earnings.
“It can be 15–25 million crowns a year,” Olof Lundh approximates.
Few numbers are ever made public, not even those who work with him find out. In his biography Zlatan speaks about how his agent Mino Raiola calls him, curious about how much the publisher Albert Bonniers paid for the book. Zlatan answers that he doesnÂ´t know.
“Bullshit! You know exactly,” Mino Raiola answers, and Zlatan then adds:
“Of course, he was right. I knew exactly. I refuse to be used and deceived again, and I always try to stay one step ahead in negotiations. What do they think? What do they want, and what is their secret tactic?”
His biography has also become a huge sales success and has been exported to 20 markets, with more coming. In July it will be released in the U.S. Trade assessors that VA has spoken with say that Zlatan should have received 50–100 crowns per bound book. With the lower number this means that the 1,5 million sold books at the end of 2013 has earned him around 75 million crowns. And this is not counting pocket versions and coming sales.
Another campaign that has received a lot of publicity is the Volvo commercial in Sweden, where fees of 10–12 million has been spoken of in the tradeÂ´s press. Well-versed informants say that this is wrong – such numbers does not occur in Sweden, not even for Zlatan, especially since the initiative came from him.
The main part of the earnings has come from the soccer, and the total earnings are approximately 1,2 billion crowns.
But is Zlatan a billionaire? Doubtful. Olof Lundh reacts on the large expenditures consisting of private jet and fast cars.
“Zlatan must have an incredible burn rate. The house in Malmö has cost at least 52 million crowns – you canÂ´t make an infinite number of such deals. I am not saying that he is going bankrupt, but there are studies of American NFL players where two thirds of the players are bankrupt within three years of having stopped playing because they have expensive habits.”
Soccer journalists who have for several years talked with and interviewed Zlatan have not received any answers when it comes to sponsors, advertising and other partnerships.
“He never really speaks of his economy. When he gets questions he disarms them or says that it is not something that he wants to speak about,” says Erik Niva, award-winning sport journalist from Aftonbladet, who has followed Zlatan since the time in Dutch Ajax.
“He pretty much never does an interview without limits, only to launch a book, advertisement or to accept an award,” he says.
An older but telling example was when he agreed to do a filmed interview with the production company OTW in connection with an award in 2005. To get publicity OTW gave the entire interview to TV4 who advertised the exclusive interview and also broadcast it on the channel almost a week after the award was handed over – in other words not in connection with the award.
Zlatan answered by getting his lawyer involved who argued that it was a breach of contract. Threats of damages were imminent.
According to reports to VA, OTW/TV4 had to pay dearly to reach a settlement.
“I know he was very watchful – on what was said, what was written and who did it,” Erik Niva says.
The property on Östermalm that earlier housed Elimkyrkan is owned, as mentioned, by Pestolla. The deputy of the companyÂ´s board is ZlatanÂ´s half-brother Aleksandar Djordjevic, who the family calls “Keki”. In turn, Aleksandar Djordjevic runs since a while back the app company K Apps in Malmö, in which ZlatanÂ´s sister Sanela is deputy.
K Apps is developing a new chat program called PinMsg that is supposed to offer greater security than the competition.
“There are many who have gotten in touch wanting to write about PinMsg, but I really donÂ´t have the time,” Aleksandar Djordjevic writes in an e-mail.
“I can get back to you prior to the release, just like I have told the others.”
K Apps resides at the same address in Malmö as a major business friend to Zlatan – Percy Nilsson.
Percy Nilsson establishes that he has known Zlatan for many years.
“We are from the same city,” he says.
Percy Nilsson has yet to invest in K Apps, but he knows that they are on the seventh floor of the property where Parkfast, one of his many companies, is housed. Percy Nilsson has not done any business with Zlatan.
“I try to avoid that with friends,” he says.
He has given him some advice, but nothing that he wants to specify.
“We talk now and then,” he says and adds that it is more through hunting that they have united.
The pattern is obvious. The people Zlatan has contact with does not want to say anything. Outsiders canÂ´t get close. Erik Niva from Aftonbladet argues that this is yet another of ZlatanÂ´s distinctive characteristics.
“There is much speculation and puzzling. It is hard to know if you have put the pieces correctly. Those with the solution, and are willing to talk about it, are very few.”
For example, rumors have flourished about him owning a dwelling in Dubai, which later turned out to be untrue. Zlatan has also supposedly bought a home in Manhattan, New York. The home is said to lie at the corner of Leonard Street and Broadway in Tribeca, in the new luxury concept called The Leonard.
“It is a project to transform a property from commercial to apartments,” says Boris Aronov, one of the investors in the project.
It is the Italian property developer Davide Bizzi with the company Bizzy & Partners that right now is transforming the twelve-story building to 66 apartments with 2–4 rooms on 78–182 square meters. The price per square meter is around 115 000 crowns.
On a direct question Boris Aronov confirms that he and Zlatan Ibrahimovich have invested in the project.
“That is correct. My partner Bizzi, he is Italian and knows many Italian soccer players,” Boris Aronov says.
Have you met Zlatan?
“No,” Boris Aronov says.
As co-financiers both Boris Aronov and Zlatan are guaranteed one apartment each. Boris does not want to reveal the size of his investment. The whole property was sold for $53 million and a large investment has been made to transform the previous offices to homes.
The return will be seemingly good: 64 of the 66 apartments have been sold, says Steven Della Salla, who is the leader of the project. Also he confirms Zlatan IbrahimovichÂ´s partnership.
“Yes, that is correct. He has both bought apartments and invested in the company,” Steven Della Salla says and adds:
“He has bought apartment earlier in Italy,” says Steven Della Salla and refers to the purchase in Milano, where the family moved in in 2010.
When Zlatan played soccer in Italy the family owned a luxury villa in Cernobbio by the Lake Como, which is now sold. But he has kept the central apartment in Milano.
In the U.S. the partnership in The Leonard is hidden since the holding company behind the property is placed in Delaware, a state that is something of a tax paradise in the U.S. Many investors have placed their companies in the state to draw benefit from the tax relieves and prevent insight. It is therefore unclear how great of an investment Zlatan has made.
“I do not want to give you that number. He is a partner to us. If he gives his permission I can give more information, but not otherwise,” Steven Della Salla says.
According to Boris Aronov it is not long until people can move in.
“They should be done on the last day of July.”
Olof Lundh thinks that the Ibrahimovich family is drawn towards the U.S. because they are more anonymous there. The family has spent a number of summer holidays in Miami where it is also rumored that Zlatan owns a home. In an interview with New York Times this spring – to launch his biography – Zlatan said that he can imagine finishing his professional career in the U.S. when the contract with PSG expires in 2016. To play two or three seasons in Asia or the U.S. is an established exit strategy for top stars – something David Beckham also did.
Among those who regularly interview the soccer star and try to understand what he means but does not say, there is a common view that the business man Zlatan is getting ready for the career after the soccer since three or four years back. The PR consult and brand name manager Mika Lepistö is one aspect of this, which also means that he has opened up more.
“The book was written because he himself wanted to tell his story and somewhat because he wanted to be better understood in Sweden,” Erik Niva says, who speculates that he is getting ready for the life after the soccer.
“I believe that he is preparing for the familyÂ´s return to Sweden after the career. And perhaps also because Helena Seger might want to re-start her civil career. The openness might be a way to make Sweden a bit more welcome.”
Zlatan has said himself earlier that the family feels at home in Italy – he speaks Italian almost fluently himself. Based on his passion for Sweden in the recent years with the hunting and the many investments, it is not unlikely that the family with the dogs Trustor will be based in Milano and the Stockholm area after the soccer career.
But what happens after the soccer, probably only one person knows. Erik Niva allows himself to speculate freely.
“It is almost simpler to imagine what Zlatan wonÂ´t do,” he says.
“I donÂ´t see him becoming a coach or soccer expert on TV, or going into the debate about society – even if many are asking for such a step. But I see some property dealings and he has himself opened up for a manager role. We will see in four or five years. He can probably not extend his active career longer than that.”
FACTBOX / Zlatan has earned 1.2bn SEK
2001-2012 – Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, ”‹”‹Milan – 687 million SEK (Source: trade magazine Idrottens Affärer )
2012/2013 – Paris Saint-Germain – 121 million SEK
2013/2014 – Paris Saint-Germain – 123 million SEK
Subtotal: 931 million SEK
Sponsorship contracts Nike and others (last 10 years) – 200 million SEK
Book sales – 1.5 million copies sold – 75 million SEK
Mikz app – 350 000 SEK Ã¡ month
Subtotal: 279 million
TOTAL: 1220 million SEK
FACTS / Zlatan invested 124 million SEK in properties
VILLA IN MALMÖ, purchased in 2007 for 30 million SEK.
NEW YORK APARTMENT bought in 2013 for unknown purchase price – but it can be upwards of 21 million SEK. The investment has been made in the company of the American tax haven of Delaware.
VILLA ON RESARÖ bought in 2010 for 13 million SEK.
FOREST PROPERTY on Dävensö was bought in 2012 by Daniel Majstorovic 17.8 million SEK (although many believe that Zlatan Ibrahimovic owns it).
ELIM CHURCH in Stockholm bought in 2012 for 42,75 million SEK. The owner is the holding Pestolla controlled by Zlatans mother Jurka Gravic.
MILANO HOUSE with occupancy in 2010, however, unclear ownership or purchase price.
HUNTING CABIN in Årefjället on 127 sqm, with 100 acres of land. Purchased in February 2012 for an unknown sum. Owner is Zlatan’s mother Jurka Gravic.
FACTBOX / COMPANIES AROUND ZLATAN
The Perfect Brands (Sweden)
Zlatan Swedish PR consultant, trademark agent Mika Lepistö behind brand the company had sales of SEK 1.5 million in 2012. Represents also Helena Seger.
Poets & Partner (Sweden)
Company of Zlatan’s biographer David Lagercrantz with annual turnover of around 330 000 SEK in 2007-2010. After Zlatan book sales rose to 1.8 million in 2011. Following year, 2012, net sales were 4.6 million SEK.
Pestolla Holding (Sweden)
The company behind Elimkyrkan where only Board is Zlatan’s mother Jurka Gravic has assets of 59.7 million.
FACTBOX / Zlatan Ibrahimovic
BORN: October 3, 1981.
FAMILY: Partner Helena Seger, sons Maximilian (born 2006), Vincent (born 2008).
BASED: Owns homes in Stockholm, Malmo, Milan, New York and Åre. Rents apartment on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, near of the Champs-Ã‰lysées.
SALARY: 136 million SEK a year from Paris Saint-Germain. AGGREGATE INCOME: 1.2 billion SEK.
INTERESTS: Known for his hunting, playing video games and driving fast cars. Last purchase was the exclusive hybrid sports car Porsche Spyder 918 with 887 horsepower that is only produced in 918 copies, which cost 5.6 million. Bought in May 2014.
FACTBOX / CLUBS PAID 157 MILLION EURO FOR HIM
The sales of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has generated the world’s highest aggregate transfer fees.
1996 Wrote contract with Malmö FF and moved up in Malmo FF’s senior team in 1999, and afterwards sold to Ajax for 8.7 million euro.
2001-2004 played for Ajax. Was sold to Juventus for 16 million euros.
2004-2006 played for Juventus. Was sold to Inter for 24.8 million euros.
2006-2009 played for Inter. Was sold to FC Barcelona in a complicated transaction for around 69.5 million euros.
2009-2010 played for FC Barcelona. Loaned to AC Milan 2010/11 season, then sold to the same club for 24 million euros.
2010-2011 played for AC Milan. Was sold to Paris Saint-Germain for 20 million euros.
2012 – Plays for Paris Saint-Germain